About 10 minutes after a Montgomery County judge sentenced him to five years in prison Thursday, Dmytro Solomatin left the courtroom to join his family.
“Judge [Ronald] Rubin made a well-educated decision,” Solomatin, 27, of Reston, Va., said of his sentence. “I think he saw the case for what it was; not necessarily how the state presented it.”
Solomatin and another man fought over an open pump at a gas station in Germantown on Aug. 6. After he was hurt in the fight, Solomatin, who is allowed to carry a gun in Virginia, retrieved his handgun from his car and shot the victim's car tire, according to testimony at trial.
Solomatin was convicted of first-degree assault, the use of a handgun in a felony crime of violence and illegal possession of a handgun after a three-day trial Jan. 19. Solomatin was also acquitted of attempted second-degree murder.
Rubin withheld a 10-year sentence on the assault charge and a one-year sentence on the handgun possession charge. Solomatin can appeal his sentence before a three-judge panel, which has authority to overturn the mandatory minimum five-year sentence for a felony handgun charge, said Scott Rolle, Solomatin's private defense attorney.
“I understand why they have mandatory minimums, but you're going to have cases like this every once in a while where it just doesn't fit,” Rolle said after the sentencing. “... [Solomatin] knows there are ramifications for what he did, but that shouldn't be five years in jail.”
In his decision, Rubin acknowledged that the shooting took place after Solomatin was injured, including a broken nose, in a mutual fight. Rubin also acknowledged Solomatin's claim that he aimed at Michael Rickley's tire to prevent him from following Solomatin, who was with his pregnant wife at the time.
“This is a complicated case and I do find that there are multiple factors that led to what transpired,” Rubin said. “... I do find the defendant has accepted responsibility for what happened.”
Rickley was not available for comment after the sentencing. He asked Rubin in court Thursday to sentence Solomatin to the fullest extent of the law.
“Not only was I assaulted, I was assaulted with a deadly weapon,” Rickley told Rubin, asking the judge not to accept Solomatin's version of what transpired. “We all know what really happened [that day]. This man deserves no leniency.”
Assistant State's Attorney Eric J. Nee, who prosecuted the case, was not immediately available for comment after the hearing.
Solomatin, who has been on home confinement since shortly after turning himself in to police Aug. 6, will be allowed to return to home confinement until after his three-judge panel review, Rubin said.
The three-judge panel can either uphold Rubin's sentence, or choose to increase or reduce the sentence, Rolle said. Rolle and Solomatin will file for the panel review within 30 days, Rolle added.